All the Finger Pointing

a-por-ti

We are all guilty of it. Not one of us is exempt from pointing a finger at others.  The judgement and blame is all around us everyday.  Social media has exacerbated the division and judgement unlike anything I have witnessed in my life.  In my own experience I have watched people who claim to be Christian and God fearing cast heartless and relentless judgement.  Sometimes even from my own family members against other family members.  The judgement goes from the Christian end of the spectrum to the one who claims there is no God.  Those that claim they are the most tolerant of others until the other has a differing belief or opinion.

On the flip side we all have experienced the brutal isolating end of being judged by others.  We all have a story.   Literally I have been judged for laughing too much.  (That made me laugh by the way)  I’ve been called every name in the book for doing all within my resources to help provide love and security to a stranger.  It really doesn’t matter who we are we are all guilty of casting judgment and we have been recipients of judgement.

I love reading comments to videos friends share on social media.  Videos of babies, puppy dogs, cats, etc…  I’m drawn to the happy non-political things.  Seriously if you read comments there always seems to be at least one negative Nelly casting judgment.  Recently there was a little girl reading to her cat.  She actually could not read, but was mimicking the love and nurture shown to her as she had been read to.  Literally someone called every person stupid on the thread because the child was not really “reading”.   The beauty completely missed by their blinded judgmental eyes.  Another recent video was two healthy babies sitting on some sort of vibrating platform.  They were laughing and having the time of their lives as their baby rolls jiggled and voices shook.  Someone was claiming child abuse and shaken baby syndrome.  Really there is more vibration driving a car down a gravel road.  My point is that no matter how sweet, innocent, loving, and good the judgement is there.

As God continues to bring people into my life from all walks my prayer has become this.  Lord help me to keep from pointing the finger of judgement and use all ten of my fingers to build others up.   It takes no effort to point a finger.  What does pointing a finger accomplish besides hatred?  It takes God’s power and everything within my own strength to lift  up another.   While we point one finger there are nine other fingers being wasted.

Stories of people who have overcome are also one of my favorites.  Two common factors in these stories I notice is that it took looking to God and that each person had at least one other person that believed in them.  It was a person that God used all ten of their fingers to lift the broken person up, speak truth to them, and say you can do this!!

Truthfully I would much rather sit and listen to the story of the drug addict lying in the gutter than what the “rich and famous” are doing.   I am no better than anyone who sins differently than me.   We all have pain, we all have a story, we all need truth, we all need love,  we all need affirmation, we all need at least one person that believes that we matter.

Scripture tells us when Jesus walked this earth he met people in their brokenness and those were the lives healed.  The blind and judgmental completely missed Him.

What if we all put the one finger down and extended all ten fingers in love?

We are Never too Broken

Jesus-on-the-cross

My oh my what a whirlwind the last couple months have been.  My take away from all that has happened since the end of August is that if God tells you to sell your house and move just listen and do it!   It wasn’t an overnight decision to put our house that was our  “Dream home”, (those are big fat quotes representing the world view of success and materialism).  To others it may have looked that way.  God actually started planting those seeds as soon as we had gotten our first placement as foster parents.  Everything about this calling has been a process.  God working out one detail at time within each of our own hearts.  It was an idea God worked on Mike and I individually with at first and then brought us together as a couple talking and thinking about it.  Then the actual decision was fast!  God said do it now!   Now is the time!!  So we did!  We had started speaking with a friend that is a Realtor around the beginning of August and boom decided to put it on the market Labor Day weekend.  The first two couples that looked put in offers and the house we ended up buying popped up on the market that very weekend.  Within 6 days contracts were all set.   The main point to our move was to downsize amount of expenses and maintenance so that we can be more available to the children God brings to us.  The house we bought fits the need and the neighborhood is perfect for kids.

So that little bit of background leads to my real blog.  So when we looked at our new house I had noticed a shower that was pretty funky.  By funky I mean mildew stained gross.  The home inspector noted it as a severely stained shower and took photos.  Mike and I resolved that we were probably going to need to replace it quickly and I had already started pricing them at home improvement stores.  The weekend we moved I started trying to clean the shower.  First I sprayed my vinegar, Dawn soap, and lemon juice mix all over the shower and let it sit a while.  In amazement when I went to start scrubbing I started to see a white surface begin to shine through.  I did three layers of cleaners moving next to a name brand shower cleaner, then a product with bleach and even actual bleach for the base of the shower.  Three layers of cleaning, a lot of elbow grease and about three hours of my time.  The effort was worth it to hold off on that added expense for a while.

As I watched that shower become white again I started picturing how all of us are carrying the ugly, funky gross stain of sin on us.  Some of us think we are too dirty and too far gone.  Some of us don’t see our own dirt!  There are two ends of the funky dirty sin spectrum.  Our society and even churches can communicate to a person that they are just too bad, too broken, unwanted, discarded, worthless, beyond hope, and will never amount to anything.   The next image that came to mind was Jesus taking the weight of all that dirtiness upon Himself as he hung bleeding and dying on the cross!   For three hours right smack in the middle of the day the earth was covered in darkness as Jesus bore the weight of our shame and paid the price of our sins.   Luke 23:44-46. He shed his blood and gave his life in order for us to be restored washed white and clean.  Three days in the tomb and He arose.  Three hours of darkness to finish the victory over sin then three days in the tomb  rising again to prove He is the one and only God and the only one that can truly save us and heal us!

The world of foster care has opened my eyes and heart even that much more to the need of love and compassion our world has.  Children, parents and families have been discarded as too broken and will never amount to anything.  There is hope when love steps in.  Only Jesus can truly heal and bring cleanliness to the dirty brokenness.  Healing is possible to the hearts that are open and willing to be healed.

When I set out to clean that shower it was a last ditch effort I really didn’t think it would help and we were going to have to rip it out and throw it away.  The shower gave up the dirt with time and sacrifice of sore hands, arms, and knees on my part.

How often do we look at other human beings and hold back giving love, as Christians how often do we selfishly hold back the Good News of Jesus thinking ah it will never work, they will never change.   We don’t know!  God does!  We are just to love.  Our previous foster placements are still in my heart God placed them for a certain amount of time for us to pour in His love.  Nothing is wasted and I believe with all my heart God has a huge plan for every human being.

I don’t want to say much at this time, but now knowing the faces of our next placement we are seeing His purpose, plan, and timing being revealed.  His ways are not my ways and I am so very glad.  His ways are perfect and beautiful!!

Isaiah 1:16-18 Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight: stop doing wrong.  Learn to do right; seek justice.  Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.  “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord.  Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

1John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Hey! Guess What!! Wrong is Still Wrong!

It does not cease to amaze me how society has changed literally at warped speed in my short forty two years of life.  Music has gone from eight track tapes to I-tunes.  If a person had a BIG (twenty four inch)  TV in a box when I was a kid I considered them wealthy.  We had a Twelve inch black and white for my first TV in this life.  Phones were rotary dial with a cord that attached to the wall.  Now we carry small computers for phones and have our face in them all the time.  The school principal use to be able to give kids a spanking if they were acting outside of the standards of ethical behaviors.  (How’s that for a politically correct way of saying “when we were bad”?)  Mom’s were able to stay home with their children.   Children were able to freely ride their bikes all over the neighborhood going from friend’s house to friend’s house. What in the world has happened to us?

Now it is constant bombardment of news media with people screaming about their “rights”.   There are a lot of different weaknesses we have as human beings.  We are tempted toward all kinds of addictions, immorality, evil acts, and sexual sins.  What has blown me away is how sin went from consequences or if it was a lifestyle it was kept private to being in the face of the whole world.  Criminals can get  a lighter sentence if they plead “not guilty” when they obviously are guilty.  It amazes me to hear interviews of a person who is clearly in the wrong making their excuses and actually demanding that others say they are right.  It has become our society.  “I will do what I want and get as many human beings to say I am right as possible.  Maybe I will be able to get a few laws changed to say I am right too!!”

The one true standard that will never change is God’s.  Our society can change all it wants.  We can get as many people to tell us we are right and do what makes YOU happy, but it still doesn’t make what’s wrong right.  Nothing within our human power can wipe away the guilt that we all have.  I write this as a sinner.  There have been countless times in my life that I have been brought to the humbling point of realizing my wrongful ways.  In fact the more I try to live for God and ask him to make me more and more like Jesus the deeper realization I have of my sin.  So many times I have been brought to tears and brokenness realizing how wrong I am.   Then the brokenness turns to gratitude as I realize it is the Grace and Mercy of Jesus that has covered my wrongs and has given me hope and a future.    It is when I admit that I am wrong God teaches and grows me into something so much more.   When we demand that our wrongs are right we miss out on so  much that God has to offer.

At first when I see the news I have to admit that I feel frustrated at all the standards of God’s love and God’s creation being broken.  Then the next feeling is compassion.  I know what it feels like to have the burden of guilt and shame lifted by the blood of Jesus Christ.  I know how it feels to have a hope and a future beyond this life with no shadow of a doubt as to where I will be.  As I look at the world I feel compassion because God has created a desire in me for the whole world to have what I have!!!   No matter what standard or no standards we live by in our life we still will all face that final day when we face God’s final judgment.  God will look upon us and see a sinner covered by the Grace of the Cross OR He will not even be able to look at our sinful person and will cast his rightful judgment on a wasted life.  That will not change no matter what other human beings say, what human laws are passed, and no matter what “we get away with” in this life.  God is still God!

2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

Love, Life Lessons, and a Three Legged Dog

Chloe
In an earlier blog “Dog Eat Dog World” I believe I had mentioned that sometime I would tell the story of our three legged dog. My heart was touched from the first I had heard of her and I was in love from the moment I laid eyes on her. Even our pets are a special part of God’s plan for our lives. Never an accident in how they become a part of our families.

The first I heard of Chloe was through a dear friend and coworker of mine. We were in a committee meeting at the hospital of which she was the head of. She was fighting tears that morning and having a hard time getting our meeting rolling. Through her tears she decided to provide the explanation of her emotions to all that were in the room. She started to explain that her sister had the sweetest dog literally jump into her minivan as she was loading up the family a few days prior. The dog had a broken front leg, was emaciated, had obviously just had puppies, and had no collar. The dog immediately won my friend’s sister’s heart and she decided to try to help. Her family called shelters and checked with neighbors to try to find the owners. No owners were found. There was a sign that they came across that puppies were found near the area where they live. The scenario gave the appearance that the momma and puppies were all dumped out in the country and left to fend for themselves. We can only speculate as to how Chloe obtained her broken limb.

Unable to find an owner of the dog her sister decided to take her to the vet to see what could be done for the leg. A very expensive emergent surgery could possibly be performed at another pet hospital further away. Finances are a factor when the dog is your own, but to spend thousands on a strange dog it just wasn’t a feasible option for them. There also was the risk that it was already too late to surgically repair the bones of the leg. The vet could set one of the bones, but not both. Casting the leg was not an option. The only option was to keep the leg splinted and to try to keep the dog sedate and with the splint on for weeks to allow the bones to heal. Her sister quickly became exhausted with trying to keep the splint on the dog and the dog calm. They were at the point of thinking that the dog may need to be euthanized because all the shelters were full and it seemed that no one could or would take her in. My friend had also met and fell in love with the dog hence her reason for tears during the morning meeting.

A few days later one of my friends from church posted a story about a dog her neighbors had that needed a home. She went on to tell the story which sounded very similar to the story of the dog my friend from work shared. I messaged my friend and said this sounds so similar to a story I just heard. Through our conversation I learned that she lived across the street from my work friend and it was the same dog. My work friend had taken the dog to her own home to care for since our meeting at work. Upon this discovery and going on about what a small world it is I called my friend from work, Leslie. We talked at great lengths about the dog. She had quickly become exhausted with trying to keep the dog sedate with splint intact as well. Her boys had not yet had a dog as a pet and she wasn’t sure that the dog would be the right fit for her family.

Her voice perked as she said “Anita you sound like you might be interested in this dog!” We had just put our cat down about a month before and just had one small dog at the time. We had actually been thinking about getting another dog and just hadn’t started looking at the animal shelters yet. Rescuing a dog with no home was already on my heart as the best option for us. Dogs are so adaptable and potentially having a dog with only three legs was not an obstacle for us. We are accustomed to the weird and unusual in the Lucas homestead. A three legged dog made perfect sense.

The girls and I went to meet the dog and were in love. In addition to the broken leg her ears had sores from being bitten by flies and her eyes were weepy with a gooey drainage. Our church friend and neighbor of my friend Leslie knew of someone that could help financially if needed. That person couldn’t take the dog, but wanted to help who ever could with expenses. After bringing her home we tried to keep the splint intact to no avail. Giving her the name of Chloe we soon realized that Chloe was quite the Houdini. The first day in our home of course was a work day for us so we had to leave her. We tried to keep her in a pen in the garage. She escaped the pen, climbed over bicycles, a wagon, and a Barbie car, lifted the cracked window with her nose, busted out the screen and jumped to the ground about four feet below. She stayed in the yard and greeted my mother as she pulled in the drive with broken leg dangling and a smile on her face. The splint was left behind in the pen that she destroyed. We quickly learned that she was fine staying inside the house where our presence was felt even with us not there. Having rewrapped her leg at least a dozen times I saw firsthand or first pawed that this leg of hers was not going to heal. My friend already had a vet appointment scheduled at the same vet we go to that Saturday morning. We kept that appointment. The vet was so happy that someone had agreed to take her in because he really didn’t want to euthanize her either. When he took the splint off of her leg the look on his face demonstrated what I already knew in my heart. There was just no healing that would happen. We decided to amputate and have her spayed that next week. Doing both surgeries at once we thought would be the best option for Chloe and financially. We would have had to go into debt pay for all of it and were so grateful for the financial help with the cost of the amputation. It took the work of five families to rescue our sweet Chloe all together.

The morning I took her to the vet for her surgeries I wondered if she would still love me afterward. In such a short time we had already developed quite the bond and the concern that I would lose her trust was weighing on me. The vet allowed me to call and check on her a couple times and they were happy to give the update that she had come through surgery fine. She had to stay the night for observation with the amputation being such a vascular surgery. The next day when I picked her up she was a different dog. She was brighter, so happy to see me, the weeping of her eyes was completely gone, and she appeared to have a radiant grin. My tears started to flow as soon as I looked her in the eyes. “This indeed is a very special dog” I thought to myself. Healing was a piece of cake for her. She had already grown accustomed to walking with three legs due to the break. Chloe gives deer, squirrel, and any other living creature a run for their money despite only having three legs. She falls often, but gets back up without missing a beat. Digging has been no problem she just uses her one front paw and has even managed to dig up a mole or two. One morning I looked out the front window saw her dig and catch a mole. She flipped that mole around the yard like it was a squeak toy.

It was the burden and pain of what was broken that was making her sick. Once what was broken was completely removed she was able to fully heal and be happy. She is left with the obvious scar of what she has gone through. Every day she is a reminder to me that in our lives there is only One who can rescue us from the brokenness in our lives. Jesus provides the amputation we need to completely remove the burden of our sinful broken hearts. His forgiveness alone will remove our sin that separates us from God our Creator. The day I picked Chloe up from the vet reminds me of the day when I will look full into the face of Jesus. There will be no more weeping of my eyes and my smile will radiate joy! We are often left with emotional and sometimes physical scars to remind us where we have been. Jesus bears the scars to His hands, feet, and side as a reminder for eternity of where we have been and what He did to bring us out of our brokenness. We can continue to carry the burden of our brokenness leading to death and eternal separation from God or we can ask Jesus to free us from the burden of our sin and shame leading to eternal life in the presence of God.